How to Decrease Restaurant Employee Turnover

Restaurant Employee Turnover

Turnover can hurt your restaurant.

According to economists, the turnover rate for employees in the restaurant sector was 62.6% in 2013, compared to a 42.2% turnover rate in the overall private sector.  This higher-than-average turnover rate could affect your restaurant’s bottom line.

Have you thought about the substantial cost of recruiting, hiring and training? Investopedia says the cost of hiring an hourly employee can be upwards of $3,500 when you factor in the entire hiring process. When that investment walks out the door, your bottom line takes a direct hit.

You don’t have to accept employee turnover as a regular cost of doing business. (tweet this) Plan a long-term strategy now to reduce employee exit rates, and you’ll increase your restaurant’s financial performance.

Employees leave jobs every day, and the reasons are numerous. By its nature, restaurant service is a high-stress environment coupled with relatively lower pay rates; together these can lead to employee burnout. You may wonder if there are ways to retain your employees. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the best strategies for decreasing your restaurant’s turnover rate.

Hire Right the First Time

That person who is “good enough” may not be the right person for your open position. Aim for the outstanding employee, and you’ll reap the rewards. Patience in the hiring process is important. Consider not only their qualifications and skills, but envision how they’ll work with your existing team.

Weed through the interview process with this list in mind:

  • Check their application. Be careful if they change jobs often.
  • Check, and double-check, their references. This means calling old supervisors, not just the ones they list. Pay attention and give thought to negative references.
  • During the interview, ask about their short and long term goals.

Increase Their Pay

One of the top five reasons employees leave their job is for a better paying position somewhere else. Stay competitive and keep the best talent by offering competitive wages. Even more, reward your excellent employees with a raise. Conduct regular performance reviews and offer raises at this time. Even small amounts can increase your retention rates.

Start an Employee Loyalty Program

Recognize and reward your employees. You’ll decrease your turnover rate by offering rewards. An Employee of the Month program is a great way to incentivize your employees. Consider involving them in the process. In a team meeting, plan the goals and decide on the incentives.

Establish a relationship with local businesses and barter to keep your costs low. Some creative rewards include:

  • Monetary reward
  • Gift certificates for a hotel stay
  • Free oil changes
  • Day at the spa
  • Movie theater gift certificates
  • Gift card

What do you base the rewards on? Think about positive customer comments or feedback cards, sales performance (do they consistently upsell?), comments from co-workers and their overall noticeable performance.

Train and Cross Train

Good training shows your employees you care about them. Your employees will work harder for you if they feel important. Provide a consistent orientation process and give your new hires all the information they’ll need.  Give them time to become familiar with your restaurant, your style of business and your requirements.

When your employees feel knowledgeable about your restaurant, they’ll feel more confident in their new position. Give every new employee a job description, training manual and handbook. The great people you’ve hired want to work for a well-managed restaurant. Be professional in your training.

You’ll also have a more efficient work force when they are cross trained. Training helps them feel valued while knowing that you trust them to do a multitude of tasks. When you teach new skills and bolster old ones, you’ll boost your restaurant employees’ confidence, making them feel more invested in their jobs and less likely to leave.

Lastly, provide on-going training for your employees. Provide them with new skills in areas such as food prep, customer service and marketing.

Schedule Well

Do you have employees complaining about not-enough hours? Think about the size of your staff and the needs of your restaurant and your employees. Make sure they are getting an appropriate amount of hours. What about the burnt-out restaurant managers working 60+ hours a week? Rearrange your scheduling to increase employee retention.

Provide the Ladder

Do you have opportunities for advancement? Every employee should have this potential. Does your hostess want to become a server? How about dishwashers that want to be line cooks or line cooks who want to move up to head cook? Capitalize on your employee’s strengths.

Offer training programs for your employees. Think about their performance and their interests and offer training as a path to advancement.

For example, Meatheads in Illinois paid for English classes for their non-English speaking employees who showed leadership potential. This small gesture enabled some of their dishwashers to climb the ladder to general manager positions. In turn, this kept their turnover rate below 30% – well below the national average.

Be a Dedicated Team Leader

What if your employees don’t really like each other? Handling conflict may be one of your toughest tasks as restaurant owner or manager. You must assume the role of team leader to ensure your team cooperates and works well together despite any differences or conflicts.

Read up on mediation tactics to increase your skills in times of need. Nurture your employees. Coach them and provide constructive feedback and positive reinforcement.

Employee Turnover

Is your staff happy?

Survey Your Staff

Periodically survey your staff. Keep the surveys completely anonymous for the best feedback. Ask the tough questions about workplace issues, low morale or tension between workers. Try to do this every three months. You’ll again show your employees you care. This also gives you an opportunity to nip problems in a timely manner, before your employees walk out the door.

Use Their Suggestions

Listen to and communicate with your staff for increased employee retention. (tweet this) You’re busy at work, but make sure to take the time each week to ask questions and show you value your staff. Take their input and make small changes. Implement some of their suggestions, and they’ll have more “ownership” in your business and be less likely to leave.

Encourage Communication

Be wary of restaurant staff segregation – the management team versus the staff. Promote healthy communication by holding regular staff meetings with your entire staff. Greet each of your employees daily and let them know what’s going on in your business. Let them feel a part of its success.

Conduct Exit Interviews

Unfortunately some of your employees leave. It’s important to find out why. Have an exit interview when employees leave your restaurant. Asking for this feedback may uncover some changes you need to make to retain your staff.

Thank Your Staff

Thank you. These two words are so easy to say, but in the fast-paced restaurant environment, these two little words are often forgotten. Employee turnover increases when employees are under-appreciated for all of their hard work.

Take the time to thank your employees, give them a pat on the back or an encouraging word. Remember, happy, appreciated and valued staff are loyal and long-standing.

Do you have any secrets to employee retention? How have you decreased your employee turnover rates? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below!

Images: nicolicreer & Alan Light

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